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Last Updated: Tuesday, 7 June, 2005, 19:58 GMT 20:58 UK
Archaeological dig at bypass site
A66 Temple Sowerby
The bypass will reduce heavy goods traffic by 97%
An archaeological dig has been ordered at the site of a 23m bypass in Cumbria, which was first proposed 30 years ago.

Work on the A66 Temple Sowerby project is due to start in the summer.

But the Highways Agency says it has decided to bring in archaeologists to look for remains along the route.

A hi-tech survey has been carried out to detect underground features which indicate where walls, ditches or the remains of homes may be found.

The A66 route is a major trans-Pennine link for Cumbria and Scotland to Teesside and the North East.

The new bypass is designed to remove 95% of the traffic from Temple Sowerby, improving safety and reducing noise and pollution for the village's 300 residents.

Common practice

About 15,000 vehicles a day currently use the road - many of them heavy goods lorries. Highways Agency project manager David Cochrane said: "The Highways Agency takes its responsibilities to the nation's heritage very seriously, which is why it is now common practice for archaeological digs to take place before new roads are built.

"We know the area has a long and interesting history, for example there is a Roman milestone near the east end of the village, so we wait with interest to see what might be found."

About 70 trenches will be dug by Lancaster-based Oxford Archaeology North over a four week period along the route of the bypass.

The agency will consult Cumbria's county archaeologist to decide what should happen to any finds.

Studies show the bypass would reduce the amount of heavy goods traffic in the village centre by 97%.

The planned 4.9km dual carriageway will be between a new junction at Cliburn Road in the west and a new junction at the eastern end tying in with Morland Road.


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